Have you been toying with the idea of taking a beginner dance class, but are not sure what dance style is the best fit for you?
At Fred Astaire Dance Studios in Durham, we offer a wide range of dance lessons for dancers of all levels, ages, and interests. Join us in exploring the many dance styles that beginners can choose from and how to determine which style of dance suits your fitness needs.
How Many Dance Styles are There to Choose From?
The beauty of dance is that it is one of the universal languages of the world. Dancing has been around the world since the beginning of time, being a huge part of cultural ceremonies, recreational entertainment, and artistic expression for centuries.
Here are some different types of dance that may interest you:
- Classical ballet.
- Tap dancing.
- Belly dancing.
- Ballroom dancing.
- Folk dances.
- Electronic dances.
- Street dance.
- Latin dances like the jive, salsa, and bachata.
- African-American dances like break dance, disco, funk, and hip hop.
- American traditional dance like the lindy hop and swing dancing.
- Indian classical dances like Odissi and Manipuri
- Irish dances like step dancing.
- Social dances like the waltz, line dancing, samba, and tango.
- Ceremonial dances like the ritual dances of China like the lion dance and the Hadra dances in the Islam religion.
- and many more!
As you can see from the list about it would be impossible for even the most experienced dancers to learn every single dance style and form in existence, so we want to further explore on some of the most famous dance styles that range from traditional dance styles to contemporary dance styles and explore the cultural and social influences of different dance styles from around the world.
Latin dance styles have been modernized and popularized in the United States over the last few decades, but famous Spanish dance originated in Latin America back in the 1500s.
Taking influences from the colonists of Europe and the slaves from Africa, the people of Mexico, South America, Central America, and the Caribbean blended their own traditional cultural dances with that the new dance forms learned through these new settlers from afar. The result is the incredibly rhythmic dance forms of salsa, the cha cha, the rumba, Paso Doble, lambada, bachata, tango, and the jive.
Salsa dance takes the Cuban dance styles of the mambo, pachanga, and rumba and blends them with the traditional American dance styles of tap and swing. Cuban and Puerto Rican communities in the 1960s and 1970s America made the partnered dance style of salsa popular in the United States.
Salsa consists of foot movements of a basic step with the added flair of sensual hip movements, coordinated upper body movements, and footwork in movement with the rhythm of the music.
The Cha Cha
Popularized in 1950s Havana, this Cuban form of artistic expression through dance follows the basic footwork pattern of “cha cha cha,” or “one-two-three.” The cha cha is a fluid, steady, and energetic style of ballroom dance.
Each partner performs footwork paired with a series of hip and arm movements through the display of a dramatic, flirtatious, and upbeat performance dance.
Influenced by the afro-dance movement and Cuban dance styles in the 1920s and 1930s America, the rumba celebrates Latin national dances with the current big band music phenomenon. This blends the cultural roots of Latin dance with what was currently happening in the States, creating a beautiful and technical style of dance that is still commonly performed today.
The rumba is performed with the repetition of basic side-to-side and forward-step movements in a dramatically upright, erect postural form. The rumba is recognized as a theatrical style of dance where the two partners flirt with sensuality as they perform their moves with and beside one another.
Ballroom dances are the ideal types of dances for coupled partners or social dancers. This style of dance has been popularized through competition and social dance styles throughout the world. Especially with television competition shows, like Dancing with the Stars that have solidified ballroom dancing into an American pop culture phenomenon.
Enjoyed as a form of visual artistic entertainment, in addition to television ballroom dance is enjoyed on stage and in the studio. Most dance studios will offer ballroom dance lessons for beginners, as it is one of the popular classical dance styles most people want to learn.
Set to be paired with big band music, the foxtrot style of dance incorporates long, sweeping movements across the dance floor. Similar to the waltz, the foxtrot is made of two beats of slow steps, followed by two beats of quick footwork steps, displaying a slide and saunter performance dance as you move.
The foxtrot has been around since the 1910s and came out of the ragtime movement, but gained and rose in popularity in 1930s America social circles. Still danced today, the foxtrot is one of the styles often learned at dance school and national dance competitions.
Closely connected to its Argentinian roots, the tango is recognizable to most modern dance audiences. Having originated from the late 1800s in South America, the tango sees two partners in an intimate embrace, with sensual, lead-and-follow movements where the dancers connect their bodies in movement at the legs, the chest, the upper thighs, and the hips.
Many tango dances are portrayed in theatre dance settings as the tango is an influential performance dance.
The waltz can be performed in many different styles, from a slow movement waltz to faster versions of the waltz, but it is recognizable as a popular ballroom and folk dance. The waltz originated from Germany and is encompassed by a box step and rhythmic turns that sweep elegantly across the dance floor. This closed position dance is popular for weddings and other social functions where you and a partner’s performance is made of gliding moves and fancy footwork.
Between the decades of the 1920s and 1930s, the jazz dance styles of swing dancing became popular. At social dance gatherings, people would dance the charleston, shag, or lindy hop. African American dance circles brought swing dancing to prominence across the U.S. and evolved into a modern dance style performed by people of all cultural backgrounds to this day.
East Coast Swing
A fast style of swing dances originating in New York, east coast swing includes rock and roll and the boogie woogie dances popularized in the 1970s and 1980s.
West Coast Swing
The lindy hop and other west coast styles of swing usually take place in a “slotted” dance spot, or a small designated area of the dance floor that covers a small boxed or rectangular space. West coast swing is somewhat slower than east coast and allows dancers within a crowded space to avoid knocking into one another due to the slotted spots in which the dance is to take place.
The hustle is a disco dance style popularized in the 1970s, particularly in African American social circles. The hustle made a strong mark on pop culture by being featured in the feature film, Saturday Night Fever. With that film’s popularity, people of all ages, races, and cultural backgrounds saw this modern dance evolved into a social dance set to funk music.
Hip Hop Dance Styles
Hip hop dance styles are modern dance moves influenced by African American dancing culture and street dance. This form of dance is one of the most popular forms of dance that beginners enjoy taking lessons to learn. With a variety of different movements, hip hop dance includes choreography with freestyle, making for some of the most unique dance styles with varying improvisational moves.
Originating in the 1980s and becoming even more popular in the 1990s through today, hip hop dance continues to be one of the most popular and widely known dance performed across America and the world. Styles include break dance and pop and lock, often set to rap, r&b, funk, and pop music.
What Are The Health Benefits of Dancing?
Dancing is a great way to stay fit and keep your body healthy. Which means that learning a dance routine is a not only a workout that gets your heart rate up, but you also have the opportunity to have fun. Whether it’s learning salsa, hip hop, tap, or ballet, allowing your body to learn choreography and engage in performance techniques is both rewarding and a fun way to get your body moving.
Some of the notable benefits of dancing are:
- heart and lung health
- muscle tone and strength building
- increased endurance
- increased flexibility and coordination
- strong bones
- an increase in self-esteem and confidence
- weight management
How Do You Know Which Dance Style is Right for You and Your Personality Type?
Now that you’ve learned about all of the styles of dances and their benefits you may be overwhelmed with the options in front of you. Unless you are a dancer yourself, it is possible your experience with dancing might come from hitting the dance floor at a wedding, at a social event, visiting a performance as an audience member, or viewing iconic dance moments through film.
One of the greatest attributes of selecting dance styles is that you can be a complete novice one day, then after taking a few classes become passionate about a particular dance style. It does not take years upon years of practice to love the artist’s form of expression that is dancing once you find the dance styles that work best with your personality and goals.
So when looking at what type of dance is best for you, it is important to consider your age, fitness level, personal fitness goals, and interests might depend on the type of dance class you would most like to take. We encourage you to also consider the types of movements and routines that most interest you, then sign up for a trial class of a few different types of dance to see what fits your personality best.
How To Prepare for Your First Dance Class or Private Dance Lesson
Now that you have taken the time to research and select the best style of dance for you, it is time to make sure your body is probably prepared for the new movement! It’s always important to warm up your body’s ligaments and drink plenty of water when engaging in the physical activity. It is also helpful to choose to wear clothing that makes you feel good and that is breathable, so you are able to easily move in.
In the end, aside from coming prepared with hydration and movement, we ask that you be forgiving of yourself and just have fun! Nobody is an expert dancer during their first or even tenth class- so if you have questions, need to practice more, or need modifications for difficult movements, our expert dance instructors are here to help guide you toward success.
Go Ahead, This Is Your Sign To Sign Up For A Class! You Won’t Regret Learning How To Dance – It’s a Great Way to Stay Fit And Have Fun Too.
Whether you want to work on flexibility, endurance, or just take a class to find a new, fun workout routine, or dance routines will give you plenty of ways to move your body and break a sweat. Contact The Fred Astaire Dance Studios serving clients in the Durham and surrounding areas to sign up for your first dance class today. You can call us (919) 489-4313 or fill out the contact form below to schedule your first lesson!
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